If I were doing reviews of West Virginia towns instead of West Virginia hot dogs, I would give Buckhannon a Five Weenie rank. It has everything you need in a small town: a courthouse with a tall spire that can be seen for miles, a picturesque main street with quaint little shops and restaurants and flowers hanging from storefronts. On this Main Street is a restaurant called C.J. Maggies, the original location of what has developed into a small regional chain of excellent restaurants with impeccable atmosphere, service, selection and food quality. If I ever found myself on death row awaiting a last minute pardon from the Governor, their New Orleans Shrimp Pasta dish is what I would order as my last meal.
So what would happen if the people behind a great gourmet restaurant decided to open a Hot Dog Joint? Barnyard, that's what.
Located right across the street from C.J's, Barnyard (official name: "Barnyard - Cows - Chicken - Fish -Dogs & Pigs") is full of the same attention to detail that I love about C.J. Maggies Everything about Barnyard, from the neat little outdoor dining area to the overalls and straw hats worn by the wait staff is well thought out and well executed. The interior decor is Urban Prairie meets Hee Haw, complete with old washtubs as light shades and wrought iron slide-bolt latches on the restroom doors. The old plaster on the walls has been chiseled away to strategically reveal the old tile block underneath. The effect is really nice. Hands down, this is the coolest hot dog joint in the state.
And make no mistake, this is a hot dog joint. The menu sports 6 different hot dogs, from the "Chicago Dog" to the "Puppy Dog". One of the offerings is a "West Virginia Hot Dog" which includes a Nathan's Famous weenie (yum!) on a premium bun, chili, slaw, mustard and onions. Sounds good, huh? It's better than good, it is a great, great sandwich. But it's not a great WVHD; in fact, it isn't a WVHD at all.
You see, the first thing that you notice is that the thing is huge! The bun is giant, like a large hoagie bun only softer and tastier. The weenie is split down the middle and grilled to utter perfection (and a perfect Nathan's weenie is out of this world good!) The chili is not very spicy, but very complex and delicious; I kept thinking how great it would taste over a mound of spaghetti. The slaw was a little coarse, not sweet at all but very tasty.
With apologies to Burger King, it takes two hands to handle this whopper, and even then it's hard to eat without getting really messy. But don't worry, the mess is well worth the taste. Just a really tasty sandwich. Just not an authentic WVHD for the following reasons:
1. Size - Way too big to compare.
2. Weenie - The great tasting Nathan's Jr. sausage is prepared in a manner that is totally incomparable to any other WVHD.
3. The Chili and Slaw - If this chili and slaw were on a regular WVHD it wouldn't fare well. It depends on the weenie for taste support, which the weenie does well, but like Chris pointed out in the last review the point of WVHD is to make something cheap taste great.
4. Price - at $3.75 it costs as much as 3 normal WVHD's.
So I am not going to try to give an official Weenie ranking to Barnyard's hot dog because it wouldn't be fair. Suffice it to say this is a very nice place to eat in a very nice small town. I highly recommend it.